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Not only at the Stammtisch, but also in the media, simple theses find the greatest echo. This also applies to the discussion about the aging of society, as Ernst Kistler shows. In his book, the social scientist and expert on labor market issues picks up six popular theses on this topic and questions them thoroughly.

For a myth, for example, he takes the picture of the wealthy pensioners, who enliven the domestic market while caring for the very old. Purchasing power and volunteer potential are greatly overestimated, says Kistler. He is convinced that in the coming decades, poverty in old age will increase significantly, exacerbated by the increase in the retirement age. Because that does not mean a few years more work, but a few years without income. Older people would be discriminated against, jobs tailored to them and education would be missing. Not the demographic change, but mass unemployment and the political decisions after the reunification would have emptied the social and pension funds. At present, fewer young people need to be educated than before, argues Kistler, while the baby boomers from the sixties will pay another 20 years into the coffers - money that is lacking even in old age.

These are good arguments, which are hardly considered by politicians so far. The main aim of the current debate, however, is to curtail workers' rights, Kistler suspects. Sharp ammunition - not just for the next round table.

Ernst Kistler THE METHUSALEM LIE Hanser Wirtschaft Munich 2006, 270 p., € 19.90 ISBN 978-3-446-40699-5

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